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Sex Sells Out

The concept is brilliant: take a bunch of pierced, tattoo’d, and otherwise punkish-looking young women and market them as post-modern pin-up girls for the alternative nation using the Web. That’s what www.suicidegirls.com is all about, and it’s created a ground swell of interest in some enterprising women who do call themselves Suicide Girls. But why stop there in a society in which sex sells, particularly if you can package it as something other then just plain sex or pornography, something akin to art, or rock and roll, or, better yet, a kind of performance art with roots in punk rock or at the very least alternative culture? And so the Suicide Girls have become a touring burlesque act — an R-but-not-X-rated group of performers who dip into nostalgia for the innocent days of the artfully crafted strip show and mix in lots of punk-rock attitude.

To call it a winning combination would be, well, an understatement. Suffice to say that the line stretched around the block Monday night when six Suicide gals showed up to strut their stuff downstairs at the Middle East. The room, which had been only half full for the Urge Overkill reunion tour stop the night before, was packed with fetish freaks, computer geeks, rock boys and grrrls, and even a few older folks by the time — 10:30 p.m. — the Suicide Girls took the stage. At first, the pairings of two and three women who took the stage in succession stuck to standard burlesque routines, with classic raunchy music accompanying what was your typical low-rent strip show apart from an above-average number of tattoos and piercings. No, there wasn’t any full frontal nudity, or even so much as a nipple flashed during the hour-long event. But as it gained momentum, the performance took on more of a rock-and-roll edge, with music by the Ramones and Joan Jett replacing the trad burlesque fare.

The crowd, of course, loved it. Even before the girls got going, the ever-alert Middle East bouncers, some of whom looked a wee bit uncomfortable as they flanked the stage, had to remove a young couple who I gather had started a sex show of their own in the crowd. But that pair didn’t miss much. I mean, re-enacting one of the death/torture scenes from Reservoir Dogs (set to "Stuck in the Middle with You") was a campy good time, and the finale, which included lots of whipped cream and Hershey’s syrup, was fun and even clever. But in the age of the on-demand Spice network, it was all pretty tame, and not really rock and roll enough.


Issue Date: February 13 - 19, 2004
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